How the heartbreak of loss can actually break your heart

Life’s greatest treasures aren’t the things we buy, but the relationships we form – the people who share our journey through the world.

So of course, the toughest part of life is when our loved ones are called home before we are.

We know we’ll rejoin them someday, but it doesn’t make it any easier to accept the loss.

As a result, death can be hard on the living. It can cause stress and lead to serious heart problems – and the latest research shows how losing the person who captured your heart can literally throw your heart off its track.

The new study finds the death of a spouse can cause atrial fibrillation, a dangerous irregular heartbeat condition that can lead to other serious heart problems…and even increase your risk of a stroke.

The only exception is when your spouse has been critically ill for some time, and you’ve had the chance to prepare for their passing.

For everyone else, the risk is higher – and the more unexpected the loss, the higher the risk of a-fib.

Overall, losing a spouse who’s not critically ill will increase your risk of a-fib by 41 percent. If your spouse was healthy in the month before his or her death, the risk jumps to 57 percent.

And if you’re a little younger – under the age of 60 – the risk doubles, according to the study in the journal Open Heart.

The risk is highest when the wounds are freshest: In the week or two after your spouse has passed away.

After that, your a-fib risk starts to normalize again – but that can be little consolation, when you’re struggling to cope with loss.

Even without the a-fib risk, the loss of a spouse can lead to other serious problems, including other heart problems and depression.

This comes as no surprise – after all, how often have you heard of someone who died only weeks or months after losing a loved one?

Ultimately, all of these conditions have the same root cause: stress.

The stress of loss and accompanying depression can worsen existing problems, triggering a heart attack or stroke.

I know it’s difficult to hear when facing some of the toughest days of your life, but along with mourning your spouse, it’s important to take care of yourself, too.

Do it for yourself…and for your loved ones still here on Earth.

Natural therapies such as St. John’s wort and homeopathic remedies can often help, but don’t forget the power of the best medicine of all: the support your friends and family, and some time seeking strength and comfort through prayer.